Cohen plea fuels media frenzy

This is a rush transcript from "Media Buzz," December 2, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: On the Buzz Meter this Sunday, President Trump now calls the media America's greatest enemy. That according to interview with two of his closest outside advisers who have their own indictment of the press. Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie will be here.

Media mania as Michael Cohen pleads guilty to lying to Congress over his role and planning of Trump Tower project in Moscow during the campaign. And the press calls him a threat to the president.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: He is a weal person and what he's trying to do is get a reduced sentence. So he's lying about a project that everybody knew about.  CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC: The president of the United States has been lying to the American people for years now. Lying that he was ever doing any business with a foreign power which was at the same time committing criminal acts to help get him elected president.  LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS: Now, given Cohen's history of mistruths, let's put it that way, the question is, was he lying to Congress then or is he lying to Mueller now?

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: This deal, guess what, it never, ever, ever happened. The project never got off the ground. No Trump organization investments were ever made and today, the Trump organization has no buildings in Russia. You wouldn't know it if you're watching the mainstream media.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN: It was in the works at a time when the president said he had no business with Russia. No investments. Not doing the deal doesn't excuse the president from lying about trying to get a deal done.


KURTZ: Are the pundits siding with Michael ohen against his former boss? This as Paul Manafort and Julian Assange denounced the report of The Guardian about their supposedly secret meetings with WikiLeaks vowing to sue the paper.

And the media say the president has signaled a possible pardon as Manafort's plea deal blows up, while The New York Times reveals his lawyer was secretly briefing the Trump team about his talks with prosecutors.


LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC:  There he is committing the crime of obstruction of justice in plain sight. He is willfully obstructing Robert Mueller's pursuit of justice in the Manafort case.

TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS: Robert Mueller's prosecutors are instead threatening elderly men with life in prison for petty crimes, crimes that have nothing to do with spying or Russia or anything else that threatens America. The whole thing is grotesque joke.


KURTZ: Trump telling The New York Post that a Manafort pardon isn't off the table. Is the media chatter justified? Plus, the legacy of George Herbert Walker Bush, a president whose reelection slogan has annoyed the media but in the end was celebrated by the media. I'm Howard Kurtz and this is Media Buzz.

There is a lot to get to on the coverage of Michael Cohen's guilty plea, but I want to start with this question of media credibility. The Guardian story about Paul Manafort looks like a bombshell and it sure was treated that way on television.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN: We begin with the new report that Paul Manafort, the president's former campaign chairman, paid secret visits, multiple ones, to Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. This is according to The Guardian.


KURTZ: If the story was true, it meant that Manafort met with Julian Assange as a Trump campaign official in 2016, months before WikiLeaks did that massive dump of Democratic e-mails hacked by Russian operatives.

But this was followed by denials, Manafort claiming the story is totally false and deliberately libelous. Assange said the alleged meetings never happened. "Remember this day when The Guardian permitted a serial fabricator to totally destroy the paper's reputation."

WikiLeaks says it is willing to bet The Guardian a million dollars and its editor's head that Manafort never met Assange. WikiLeaks now raising money online to sue the London paper.

Joining us to analyze the coverage: Gillian Turner, Fox News correspondent and a former White House official in two administrations; Emily Jashinsky, culture editor at The Federalist; and Jessica Tarlov, senior editor at The Buzzle and a Fox News contributor.

OK, Gillian, the part about the editor's head is creepy.


KURTZ: But I have a lot of respect for The Guardian which won a Pulitzer four years ago for reporting on leak on documents. But this story with the fierce denials seems a bit thin.

TURNER: Even if The Guardian was US Weekly, I would still go with that reporting because your choices are in terms of believability and trust are between Paul Manafort, WikiLeaks and, you know, outlet three. No matter who outlet three is, I'm going with them.

KURTZ: Manafort of course is an admitted liar. I doubt, Emily, we're going to see this million dollar bet by Julian Assange. Should the media have been more cautious about running with this, because if it's true, Julian says, we potentially devastating tying the Trump camp to WikiLeaks? But if it's true, I mean, you got all people involved saying absolutely it's not untrue.

EMILY JASHINSKY, THE FEDERALIST: Right. And to Julian's point, I think it's very fair. You know, Paul Manafort is not necessarily the most honest man in Washington.

That being said, the intensity of their denials, I think, is well worth noting because this is something that if it is true, there should be video footage, there should be evidence of travel, there should be plenty of evidence that if you are doubling down this hard, you're going to look really dumb.

And so there's reports that The Washing Post, The New York Times are trying to confirm The Guardian story. That did not happen. The Guardian later softened its story a little bit, things like --

KURTZ: Apparent.

JASHINSKY: Apparent, yes. So, I think that the story didn't prove to be the bombshell that the media eagerly wanted it to be --

TURNER: I'm sorry to jump it. I just have to clarify before everybody kills me online. I'm not saying that I believe that Paul Manafort went into the embassy and met with -- what I am saying is that if my choices are between the three of them, I believe The Guardian has by the far the most credibility.

KURTZ: In fairness, Jessica, somehow it was reported it was unconfirmed, that we couldn't confirm it.


KURTZ: But there is an assumption that Manafort was lying, except I still can't figure out how he could get three times into the Ecuadorian embassy without anybody knowing it.

TARLOV: No, I lived in London for six years. I was on CCTV probably 23 hours of my day. If not on the news, there should be records of this. At the same time, The Guardian --

KURTZ: This is the surveillance --

TARLOV: The surveillance in London which they are famous for and have been fighting terrorism very effectively for years now. There should be records of it. But at the same time, The Guardian, as you pointed out, is an incredibly reputable outlet. They stand by their story. They softened it a bit. But they say that they do have sources on this. We see how it plays out.

But I would say that the journalists who were reporting it were saying according to The Guardian. This wasn't, you know, CNN running with it and not, you know, saying this is who came up with it. So, I think it is fair certainly to bring up. And on the same week that we find out that Paul Manafort violated his plea deal, again, I'm going with Gillian here --

KURTZ: We'll come back to that. But let me turn to this incredible media mob scene in Manhattan. We put that up on the screen. Michael Cohen sort of came out of the blue, pleading guilty a second in a second case to lying to Congress. There we go. This was treated, Gillian, as a bombshell.

Liberal pundits were saying, well, the president's former fixer has finally nailed him. This of course having to do with Cohen's role in pursuing Trump Tower fixer lied in pursuing the Trump Tower project in Moscow.

And conservatives are just following the president's lead and saying, hey, look, he has twice admitted lying in two different cases, how can you believe him?

TURNER: Well, Cohen has managed to do something that really not many people have been able to do which is put President Trump on the defensive, think now the media smells blood in the water. And so they are all over this like white on rice.

You know, it's like a very -- I would say compromised or vulnerable position for President Trump to be in. His defense now is actually Michael Cohen is a liar. It is very hard to backtrack going from somebody once called the brilliant, trustworthy, terrific guy to calling him a liar.

KURTZ: Cohen's version, Emily, is that he has decided to stop lying when he decided to sort of come clean and cooperate with Robert Mueller. And the media -- is the media consensus accurate when -- if he's telling the truth, then we already knew that the Trump organization was pursuing a real estate project in Moscow through January 2016, just before the primaries and caucuses start.

Now, it's supposedly through June of 2016 when he's winning the nomination. And that's not according to Michael Cohen. Then BuzzFeed has additional detail that Vladimir Putin was promised a -- had been promised a $50 million condo in the building to help attract the rich Russians.

JASHINSKY: If that story is true -- the whole thing with this lying is important. I think it is important that -- and President Trump said this week, you know, it's not as though nobody knew about this still. So while he's calling Michael Cohen a liar, he is also saying this deal was pretty widely known at the time.

If it goes into June and we have the president on the record saying X, Y, and Z, I have no deals in Russia, I'm not doing --

KURTZ: He said that many times.

JASHINSKY: At the same time, it is not colluding with the Russian government. Both of those things can be true.

KURTZ: I think the media consensus, Emily, to jump on you there, is that well, he now would have a motive to cooperate with Russia, if you wish, trying to do this deal. And yes, we knew about it. But the president says, look, I was a businessman, there was a good chance I wouldn't win, this was my business and so what's wrong with my pursuing such a project which by the way never went anyway?

TARLOV: There are two issues at play. One, the lying, saying multiple times I have no business dealings in Russian whatsoever which we know is not true. We have pictures of the whole Trump family out there in Moscow. We are in there first. We know this deal was happening. If there was a $50 million apartment promise to Vladimir Putin, that is actually a violation of our laws.

KURTZ: You say the deal was happening. I mean, it didn't happen.

TARLOV: It was being pursued and you have Ivanka on e-mail talking about an architect.


TARLOV: I mean, everyone was involved in there and they were not supposed to. And for you to say it can be a business deal and nothing to do with the government, nothing in Russia gets done without Vladimir Putin on that level.

So it's not like doing a deal in the America and the president of the United States not being involved. Vladimir Putin controls every single thing that happens there because of his dictatorship. So --

JASHINSKY: But that doesn't mean that we've had evidence, concrete evidence arise that the Trump campaign in and of itself was colluding with the Russian government.

KURTZ: No, I don't think it was claiming that.

TARLOV: Right.

KURTZ: It is potentially a significant event but it comes down to this question of, do you believe Michael Cohen now? But not all the reporting on this has been 100 percent accurate. Emily, NPR is reporting that Donald Trump Jr., the president's son, contradicted Cohen by saying all the discussions about any deal ended in 2014.

He was talking about a different deal. He is record as having discussed the fact that they were pursuing this Moscow project in 2015 and 2016. NPR kind of pulled it back, no apology, no full correction. We mischaracterized what Don Jr. said?

JASHINSKY: Yes. The update that added to their story, I think, was ridiculous. I think the story should have been retracted. This was an incredible blunder because what they ended up updating the story to reflect was in the transcript that they were working off. It was readily available. You could read it.

It didn't take, you know, Mollie Hemingway at The Federalist, it didn't take her that long to connect the dots here and get the story put together showing that the NPR's narrative here was easily disputed.

TURNER: It shows shadow reporting and that the reporter who put this story together didn't actually bother to read through the whole transcript.

KURTZ: Right, it was there in plain sight and Don Jr. has called this a desperate attempt to smear me, a desperate and sloppy attempt. I think -- I'm not saying it was a smear, but, man, it was a bad mistake.

So, coming back to Paul Manafort, the president's former campaign chairman, there was a kind of a media explosion when Mueller said he has violated his plea deal, he is still lying to us and so forth.

And then it really intensify when The New York Times reported Rudy Giuliani, that while he was supposedly cooperating with Mueller, his lawyer was briefing the Trump team's lawyers. Some in the press characterizing Manafort as being a double agent.

TURNER: Yeah, it was this triangulated deal whereby somehow Paul Manafort's attorneys were hoping to ingratiate him, continue to ingratiate him with the Trump campaign, but also continue to lie to Mueller's team. It's sort of have your cake and eat it, too. That is just not really feasible. It also intensified the debate this week with the pardon issue.

KURTZ: On that point, let me jump in --

TURNER: I don't mean to jump ahead. Sorry.

KURTZ: No, it's fine.

TURNER: I know you hate that. I'm sorry.

KURTZ: You queued it up for me. So the president spoke to New York Post. He was asked about this by reporters. Let's hear what he had to say.


TRUMP: The question was asked to me by The New York Post and I said, no, I have not offered any pardons. And I think they asked or whatever, would you? I said, I'm not taking anything off the table.


KURTZ: So, the media interpretation is Trump is sending a very clear signal that he could potentially pardon Manafort and here are some of the anchors on other channels saying he is obstructing justice by even talking about this.

TARLOV: Yeah. This goes back -- President Trump has been very nice to Paul Manafort publicly. Remember when he was on trial, he was tweeting this is terrible, he is a very fine man, very nice man, and the contrast between him and Michael Cohen start there.

KURTZ: Because Cohen caved at the time Manafort did, yeah.

TARLOV: It seems like he isn't. but Judge Napolitano last week was making the case that actually what Bob Mueller has done that is very smart is make Paul Manafort pardon proof by having federal crimes and state crimes, because President Trump can pardon him on federal level but can't on the state level.

KURTZ: Regardless of whether that will happen, Emily, what do you make of the pardon coverage? Do you think it is a fair reading of the president's comments in interview or do you think it set off just a wild speculation?

JASHINSKY: I think that the speculation about obstruction of justice is too far. I mean, I don't think that this is obstruction of justice. I think Jessica is right to point to the contrast between Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort and that this is a president who clearly values loyalty and to the extent that he's treating him differently, that's a real story. But to say that this is obstructive of justice, I think of course --

TURNER: I think the media though is saying it's unethical for the president to be commenting about a potential pardon, period. And that's a reasonable position to take. President Bush was bombarded with media questions in the last few years of his administration about pardoning Scooter Libby.

KURTZ: Yeah.

TURNER: He said I am not --

KURTZ: The presidential could have deflected the question, but let's just say that that is not his style. By the way, president taking a lot of flack for re-tweeting this picture. We put it up quickly. When do the trial for treason begin? Again, he was just re-tweeting. We see there Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, but also Rod Rosenstein, Bob Mueller. Kind of a unique thing for a president to do.


KURTZ: Ahead --

TARLOV: So kind, Howie.

KURTZ: Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie when the media are in Donald Trump's words America's greatest enemy. When we come back, there has been an outpouring of journalistic praise since George H.W. Bush's passing, but the tone was very different when he was president. Brit Hume joins us, next.


KURTZ: The paper today are filled with glowing tributes to George Herbert Walker Bush after his death at 94. Washington Post, public servant and statesman. New York Times using the same picture, a genial force in American politics. Some on the other special sections and articles, praise. But it wasn't always this way.

Joining us now, Brit Hume, Fox's senior political analyst who covered him in the White House. Brit, what do you make of the contrast between just, you know, bipartisan praise across the media landscape, across the political landscape and that famous bumper sticker from 1992? We got a picture of then president holding it up. Annoy the media, re-elect Bush.

BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: The media were very hard on him when he was president, even as he was running for reelection. There was, Howard, a kind of an issue -- it was a certain reverse snobbism.

George Bush was the blue blood aristocrat from a New England family who went into politics. He was looked at with certain condescension because he had been such a silent and loyal figure under Reagan and fill all these different jobs. He wasn't a terribly talented public speaker.

KURTZ: Right.

HUME: He was thought to be a man -- he paled in comparison to Reagan although there were times when he could be extremely articulate. But think of what he inherited, Howard. I mean, they said that he had no vision.

But what was happening when he became president was, the vision of many who have come before him was coming to fruition. The collapse of the Soviet Union, the fall of the Berlin wall and the rest of it. His job was to manage that skillfully to make sure it didn't fall apart, which he did.

KURTZ: Which history has recorded that he did. Now, when Vice President Bush was running, there was this 1998 interview with -- excuse me, 1988 interview that ended up being half the CBS News with Dan Rather. It got very testy over Iran-Contra. Take a quick look.


GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's not fair to judge my whole career by a rehash on Iran. How would you like it if I judged your career by those seven minutes when you walked off the set in New York? Would you like that?


KURTZ: That was sort of a protest by Rather. So Bush could be feisty when he was provoked.

HUME: Yeah, he was a competitor, Howie. He didn't have a mean bone in his body, but he was a competitor who within limits do what he had to do to deal with the task at hand. The task at hand for him of course is getting elected and assuring the Republican base that he had steel in him.

Dan Rather was not a popular figure on the American right and when he took him on in a way he did in that interview, encouraged by our founder, Fox News Roger Aisles, the late Roger Aisles, it rallied people behind him. The people in the Republican base really liked that interview.

KURTZ: Right.

HUME: He had done well at it.

KURTZ: Right. Roger Aisles then working for candidate George Bush. This also came up in this infamous Newsweek cover which was called -- the headline was, fighting the wimp factor. This covers a World War II hero and yet this was the meme that Newsweek immortalized. So he had a lot to overcome in terms of the media's perception.

HUME: He did. And, Howard, you know, he was the youngest naval aviator ever when he enlisted as a young man prior to going to college which he could certainly have done. But he chose to enlist and he was shot down over the Pacific and rescued in the nick of time by an American submarine. That's not the behavior of a wimp.

It persisted nonetheless. Even after he was out of office, 1995, Maureen Dowd writing in The New York Times, she never cared for Bush, described him as Bertie Wooster, the silly British aristocratic character of the comic novels by P.G. Wodehouse.

That image of him persisted. This was after he had managed the collapse of the Soviet Union after he had mounted the coalition that won the Gulf War. He achieved quite a lot, but nonetheless it persisted. It's that kind of reverse snobbism about class that you see that permeates the media.

Now, you see the media exemplifying it in somewhat different way towards Donald Trump.


KURTZ: -- contrast and he's now a useful foil . We have less than a minute, Brit. Since you covered that White House, what was it like to deal with George Bush personally?

HUME: Well, he was -- he knew us all because he had been around forever, all of us who covered him at the time. He was exceedingly friendly to us as he was to everyone. He had a real blessing in a way because he has a forgiving spirit. And so he endured the slings and arrows from the media with only a handful exceptions.  He was forgiving about it. He didn't stay mad at people for very long. And I think that helped him a lot. His press relations really weren't bad. His news conferences were fairly frequent and orderly. He basically did fine.

I want to add one other thing, Howard. During the run-up to the Gulf War, he had a lot of meetings with the press, many of them impromptu. And he became in that moment, Howard, extraordinarily articulate and precise in his discourse. We had not seen that in him before.

KURTZ: Right.

HUME: It was a remarkable display of what he could do when he had to and he did that. And he was nice.

KURTZ: That counts for a lot particularly in today's toxic politics, but we got to leave it there.

HUME: It does.

KURTZ: Brit, thanks so much. Great to see you.

HUME: You bet.

KURTZ: Ahead, Corey Lewandowski and Dave Bossie are openly attacking never Trump conservatives in the press in very personal terms. Up next, the media debate over the caravan changes dramatically after an attack on border patrol agent.


KURTZ: The media consensus was that President Trump hugely hyped the migrant caravan in Mexico to rile up his base during the midterms. But last weekend, a number of migrants charged an entry point near San Diego and attacked border patrol agents with rocks, seriously injuring three of them. One of 40 migrants were arrested on the U.S. side. But much of the coverage focused on the agent's use of teargas to push the attackers back.


INGRAHAM: If you caught any news about the border crisis in the last 24 hours, you have been subjected to a disgusting and blatant attempt at emotional manipulation.

O'DONNELL: We know that the president thinks that using teargas on children looks bad. There is no reason to assume that Donald Trump actually believes that it is bad to use teargas on children.

GERALDO RIVERA, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: I am ashamed this teargas choked me. We treat these people, these economic refugees as if they're zombies from "The Walking Dead."


KURTZ: Gillian Turner, I was quite surprised to hear Lawrence O'Donnell say (INAUDIBLE) Donald Trump is fine with tear gassing women and children. But that Reuter's photo, if we can put it up, of the Honduran woman and her two daughters, even if they were, bystanders, you know, it went viral and it certainly gave plenty of fuel to the president's critics.

TURNER: I mean, that looks -- the idea that his is near the American border is quite shocking, frankly. But I think the caravan issue at large is something the media continues to get wrong on all sides. It's been this fault line issue. People believe that it is either a national security threat of epic proportion or it's a humanitarian crisis.

And nobody makes any room for anything in between or anything that accommodates both. It's very difficulty sometimes for I think the media to accept the idea that more than one reality or one truth can be evident at a time and that sometimes things are not so clear-cut.

KURTZ: Right. Polarized coverage contributes to that. On that point, Emily Jashinsky, it is not wrong to say that President Trump heavily pushed the caravan and immigration in general as an issue to get his voters out during the midterms. That may be true. But doesn't this attack show that the media's dismissive approach that the caravan was nothing wasn't entirely right?

JASHINSKY: Right. That narrative fell apart, I think, and we saw that in really upsetting way. I mean, those images were nauseating. They are obviously compelling. You cannot blame the press for disseminating them. It is something that we should all be aware.

At the same time, there are several years over the course of the Obama administration where tear gas was used around 20 times. This has been happening at our border. People have thrown --

KURTZ: That didn't get mentioned much.

JASHINSKY: No. And people were throwing rocks and bottles at the border before. This is something that has been happening for years. This was an obvious flareup. It was hard to watch, hard to look at.

But the narrative that this caravan post no threat to the United States border would never arrive and if it did it would be very few people just did not come to pass and the media of course never reflected on that.

KURTZ: Jessica Tarlov, some press accounts did make clear that border patrol agents were using the tear gas after they were attacked --

TARLOV: Attacked, yeah.

KURTZ: -- by these rocks thrown by migrants. But others kind of fudge it almost as if to suggest they have no right to defend themselves.

TARLOV: Yeah, absolutely. It's a very difficult position I think to be in when you have a certain point of view, and certainly, if your party's alignment and you have to go with that. I know that for myself as a liberal opposition voice, often surrounded by conservatives. But if I show any weakness in an argument I am making, then that gets seized upon.

KURTZ: Right.

TARLOV: And that's why I think that the Gang of Eight for instance and the Gang of Six had so much trouble getting their bills passed because the other sides, the partisans out there...

KURTZ: Right.

TARLOV: ... said we can't have any compromise here because that lets down our base that feels a certain way.

KURTZ: Is that reflected in a polarized media, which either says a caravan is fearsome or the caravan is harmless?

TARLOV: I think it's absolutely the case. You know, for a while, when they were arriving around Christmas time in December, I felt perfectly fine saying you guys are being crazy. It's a humanitarian crisis. They won't be here for months and this is an election issue. Then you see law enforcement being attacked by a small minority...

KURTZ: Yeah.

TARLOV: But you are forced to acknowledge it because no one should be getting rocks or bottles in their face for doing their job. But that doesn't change the fact that it is a humanitarian crisis.

KURTZ: I'm glad we got some new insight -- brought new insight to the coverage. Gillian Turner, Emily Jashinsky, Jessica Tarlov...

TARLOV: Thank you so much, Howie.

KURTZ: Thanks very much for being with us this Sunday.

Ahead on Media Buzz, CNN fires a contributor over a speech many view as calling for Israel's destruction.

But first, Corey Lewandowski, there he is, and Dave Bossie on why they say most of the media is aligned with the Democrats.


KURTZ: With the war between the president and the Special Counsel heating up, we turned now perhaps Donald Trump's most influential outside advisors. And they have a very harsh indictment of the media in their book. Joining us now from Manchester is Corey Lewandowski, Trump's former campaign manager and advisor to Vice-President Pence's PAC. And here in Washington, David Bossie, the president's former deputy campaign manager and a Fox News contributor. The book is Trump's Enemies: How The Deep State Is Undermining The Presidency.

Corey, CNN's Jeff Toobin after the Michael Cohen plea and the Manafort business said on air, Donald Trump may not finish his term in office. Are the media impouncing on what Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort have done depicting kind of prosecutorial news tightening around the president's neck?

COREY LEWANDOWSKI, DONALD TRUMP'S FORMER CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Howie, this is amazing. CNN does not have one on-air talent that could be considered a conservative. They have gone so far to the left that their only message now is to go after the president. What Michael Cohen has pled to was lying to Congress, which no one told him to do but himself.

You know, CNN ran wall-to-wall coverage about a meeting that Paul Manafort supposedly took with Julian Assange, which we now we find out actually never happened. CNN, MSNBC, and the mainstream media has Trump derangement syndrome.

KURTZ: Well, we don't know for sure the Assange meeting happened. But as we talked about earlier -- I'm not sure about this case. I know, Dave, you have very strong feelings on Michael Cohen's credibility. But, isn't it also true that the president, who you admire, hired Michael Cohen and hired Paul Manafort and hired Michael Flynn, and hired Rick Gates, all of now played guilty to lying and other crimes?

DAVID BOSSIE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: But the crimes, Howie, have nothing to do with the president.

KURTZ: I wasn't suggesting that.

BOSSIE: No, no, no, I know that. But the CNNs and MSNBCs and the wall-to- wall Trump derangement syndrome reporters, they cover Washington, they cover this president, want to jumble it all up and make the narrative to the American people that these all have something to do with the Russia collusion investigation. They do not.

This president has nothing to do with Paul Manafort prior to his campaign. The same thing -- look, Michael Cohen pled guilty to wire fraud and bank fraud related to a taxi company in New York City.

KURTZ: Right. That's the first case.

BOSSIE: Nothing to do -- but nothing to do with the president. Paul Manafort, wire fraud and hiding money overseas and lying to the IRS over business deals, you know, 10 years before the campaign.

KURTZ: I get that much of the cases don't involve Trump or the Trump organization. But, Corey, in your book, you guys both sat for an interview with the president. And he said to you that fake news, which of course he has attacked, what he calls fake news, is the greatest enemy in this country. Greater than terrorists, greater than gang members?

LEWANDOWSKI: Look, Howie, there is -- there is a cabal of the fake news. When I look at Jennifer Rubin in the Washington Post, who supposedly claims to be a conservative, which is such a farce, she is the last thing from a conservative. Bill Kristol, who is supposed to be a conservative, you know, attacks this president because he is like a delivering method.

KURTZ: OK. I'm going to come -- I'm going to come back to that. But address the greatest enemy part because that's a pretty serious charge.

LEWANDOWSKI: Look, it's -- Howie, Howie, these people have all gotten together to attack this president for nothing. The fake news has stirred up the American people. And what this president has done, as he has pointed out how fake their stories are, the media members don't want to report the news, they want to be the news.

We have seen that with Jim Acosta. And there was never an apology. Jim Acosta went on TV and said this caravan was never coming. They're going to be hundreds of miles away. Go ask the people on the border, who have rocks thrown at them, if the caravan is there. These guys are the fake news and this president has done a good service by calling them out.

KURTZ: Dave, the president also told you guys it's hard to defend yourself, except on social media, of what is an overwhelmingly negative amount of coverage. He is the biggest bullhorn in the world. So it shouldn't be that hard for him to defend himself.

BOSSIE: And he does it every day. And he needs to do it. And what happens is this media narrative by the left-wing media in this country, this vast left-wing conspiracy that is out to destroy this president. They tried to defeat him during the campaign, they tried to legitimize him during the transition. And now, they are trying to run him out of town you know through impeachment.

It's going to be a very tough next two years, because the American people instead of being able to get things done for the American people, the president and the White House is going to be under siege by this left-wing Congress.

KURTZ: Well, for the record, we haven't gotten to impeachment yet, if we ever do. But, Corey, I have read something you and Bossie wrote on your own. The press trades on the emotions of their audience. The more they stir them up, the more they get them to buy their newspapers, tune into their channels, or click on their website. And that's true. It's true on both left and the right in my view. But doesn't the president, like many other politicians, also play on the emotions of the voters? Why single the press out?

LEWANDOWSKI: Because the press is in this to obviously make money. And what they want to do is the more salacious the story, the more the press talks about it. Look, Howie, you talked about it earlier on your show today. The Guardian story, it became on for 24 or 48 hours, about whether Paul Manafort even went to London to do a meeting. Nobody did any homework on this.

Look, Paul is a very bad guy. He has spent a lot of time in jail for a lot of crimes that he committed that had nothing to do with the campaign. But somebody, media outlets should have verified the story before they just ran with the Guardian story, because they want click bait.

And that's what happens. So the president has to use his megaphone to push back on these fake stories or else, the American people will think it is just true.

BOSSIE: And by the way, this story is now days old. Nobody in the mainstream media, the garbage that they continue to put out there on this Julian Assange meeting...

KURTZ: It's hard to disprove a story, this kind of thing.

BOSSIE: No, no, no, no. Howie, Howie, London has an incredible security, security cameras. The embassy where this meeting was supposed to happen, security cameras, the media stakes this out all the time.

KURTZ: All right. Fair point. Fair point.

BOSSIE: There would be one piece -- one shred of evidence if this meeting actually happened and not one person, after nearly a week, has been able to say that it happened.

KURTZ: All right. Quick question for you, David, before we go to a break and then we'll continue. You guys write that the media are a little more than the public relations arm of the Democratic Party.

BOSSIE: That's right.

KURTZ: I get that there is bias. I get that there is unfairness. I get that there are stories that are wrong. But P.R. for the Democrats?

BOSSIE: Howie, this -- the New York Times, the CNN, MSNBC, they are Super PACs for the Democratic Party.

KURTZ: New York Times broke the Hillary Clinton email story. That doesn't sound like a Super PAC to me.

BOSSIE: No, no, no, no. Howie, look, let's be real. They have to write stories and they do write stories that are factually based. But if you look at the totality of their coverage, they have been so predominantly negative, 90 percent of the coverage in the New York Times and the Washington Post are negative. Those stories are negative. And that is what this president has been up against since the first day of his campaign.

KURTZ: You guys have a lot to say, so let's continue the conversation after the break.

And later, the text messages revealing the story that media mogul Les Moonves didn't want told, a cover-up of alleged sexual misconduct with an actress 23 years later.


KURTZ: Corey Lewandowski and Dave Bossie on their new book, Trump's Enemies. And, Corey, among those enemies, according to you is White House leakers, people around the president who dump out stuff, making him or their colleagues look bad. You guys are right. They get seduced by the press, indignated with calls, they're stars for the first time in their lives. Is that why the White House is such a leaky place?

LEWANDOWSKI: Well, I think that's part of it. And look, these people who are nobody before coming to the Trump administration, all of a sudden get courted by the media, tell them that they want to have them on TV, they become stars. And all of sudden, they think they are the show. And they are not.

And look, what we've seen in what Bob Woodward's book pointed out was Rob Porter, Gary Cohn, others were literally taking documents off the president's desk. Those are enemies, not just of the president, but of the American people, because he is stopping his agenda from going forward.

KURTZ: And, Dave, you picking up the president say the fake news. You say that fake news refuses to report that the stock market is booming under Trump or about record-low unemployment numbers. Now, leaving aside the recent downturn of the market, there have been plenty of coverage about the stock market going way up. I think what you are really arguing is that you don't think Donald Trump gets enough credit. Certainly...

BOSSIE: You look at his list of accomplishments over the last two years of his presidency, it has been unbelievable. Whether it is on economic policy, domestic policy, or foreign policy...

KURTZ: This is usually reported.

BOSSIE: Look, it's not an overstatement. This president does not get the credit that he deserves. The mainstream media's narrative is all about this fake Russian collusion story. They eat up column inches to sell newspapers and get clicks. And they don't talk about the good things that this president does on a daily basis for all Americans.

When the economy goes up, that helps all Americans. When we are safer at home and abroad, that helps all Americans, and they play divisive politics every single day.

KURTZ: Corey, let me come back to something you alluded to in an earlier segment. And this is from your book, turncoat Republicans and former Republicans have flooded our airwaves with hatred for President Trump. And you go through the list, Bill Kristol, jealous angry clown, political activist, Jennifer Rubin you mentioned, George Will, Bret Stephens of the New York Times, Nicole Wallace desperately wants to be loved by the Trump- hating viewers at MSNBC. Why can't you not just say they are Republicans or ex-Republicans who disagree with Trump, as opposed to disparaging them in such a harsh fashion?

LEWANDOWSKI: Because they have such a hatred for the president that they can't see past that's hatred. Look, these were supposed to be the individuals who wanted to have a conservative president to come here. And calling Jennifer Rubin a conservative columnist or blogger for the Washington Post is like calling Ana Navarro a conservative. It is such a scam.

These people should be called out for what they are, which are hypocrites. Donald Trump has been the most of conservative president since Ronald Reagan or even before. When you look at the non-partisan Heritage Foundation, who says what he has been to accomplish in the first two years puts him on par ahead of Ronald Reagan. He should be praised by the conservatives.

But Bill Kristol, Jennifer Rubin, you know, all these guys, they are clowns. And they are supposed to be conservatives. But they're using their hatred of Donald Trump to further their own agenda and to have their own political philosophy put out front...

KURTZ: But would they...

LEWANDOWSKI: ... which is they hate Trump.

KURTZ: But would -- they would say, David Bossie, is that they are sticking to their principles as conservatives that Donald Trump has a different view of conservatism.


KURTZ: And I'm just struck by the way in which not that you named them, not just you disagree with them, not that you criticize them, but the way that you just personally disparage them.

BOSSIE: Yeah. We stand by every work. Look, these people, the Jennifer Rubins and the Bill -- I have known Bill Kristol a long time. I respect him.

KURTZ: The guy worked for Dan Quayle.

BOSSIE: I look at him as a mentor. But, as a conservative myself, I fundamentally -- I don't understand how you look at the Supreme Court, the federal judiciary, deregulation, tax cuts, you look at the policy agenda across the board of this president, if his name was Bill Smith and the president talks about it in his interview with us that's in this book -- if his name was Bill Smith, they would be fawning on him. But they hate Donald Trump.

And they put their hatred against -- above the ability for them to give him credit for even the smallest thing. They hate his style and they can't get over that style to get to the politics or to the conservative agenda that he has been so successful in determining for the American people.

KURTZ: All right. Next time, maybe both of you would tell us what you really think. Good discussion. Dave Bossie, Corey Lewandowski, good to see you both.

LEWANDOWSKI: Thanks, Howie.

BOSSIE: Thank you.

KURTZ: Still to come, disciplinary action at Fox News, firing at CNN, and a chilling expose about Les Moonves and the actress who says he ruined her career.


KURTZ: During some appearances on Fox & Friends, former EPA chief Scott Pruitt was given the questions in advance and his team sometimes suggested the topics, according to emails provided to the Daily Beast. In one instance, a year and a half ago, a producer asked for talking points on the three top EPA priorities that Pruitt likes to discuss, and even provided the introductory script for approval. Perfect, the Pruitt aide replied. Here's part of that interview.


STEVE DOOCY, FOX & FRIENDS CO-HOST: The press made President Obama out to be the environmental savior. And yet, when you look at the number of toxic dumps left on your plate, it's a big number.

SCOTT PRUITT, FORMER EPA ADMINISTRATOR: Absolutely. In fact, as you have said, these sites across the country have some of the, you know, uranium and lead, posing great risk to the citizens on those areas.


KURTZ: Fox News says it has disciplined the staffers involved, but is not disclosing what action was taken. A network spokesperson said this is not standard practice whatsoever and the matter is being addressed internally with those involved.

Look, it's not unusual for television producers to respond to pitches or to provide topic areas to make sure a guest is prepared to respond, but providing questions and scripts in advance is journalistic breach and should be, absolutely, out of bounds. By the way, it was also last year that Fox's Ed Henry grilled Pruitt on some of the financial problems that later led to his ouster.

CNN has fired long-time contributor Marc Lamont Hill for a U.N. speech in which he accused Israel of ethnic cleansing and called for a dramatic change in the region.


MARC LAMONT HILL, FORMER CNN CONTRIBUTOR: And that is a free Palestine, from the river to the sea.


KURTZ: That phrase from the river to the sea echoes the language of such a vowed enemy as Hamas and essentially calls for the destruction of Israel. Now, Hill says he favors a boycott of Israel, but not violence against the Jewish state. Now, commentators have the right to express their opinions, but that incendiary phrase, from the river to the sea, caused him his cable news contract.

A gripping New York Times investigation has documented how Les Moonves already ousted as CBS Chairman over multiple accusations of sexual misconduct, allegedly assaulted a young actress named Bobbie Phillips more than two decades ago. And then, tried to buy her silence this year by arranging a bit part or two of CBS shows, one them paying just $1500.

Phillips said he ruined her career by promising her movie parts, this is back in 1995, and then forcing her to briefly perform oral sex. Moonves says it was consensual. But the Times shows through interviews and lots of text messages that Moonves was so desperate while fighting for his job, again this year, that he told his agent, if Bobbie talks, I'm finished. The episode prompted CBS board members to finally turn on him. And I can't see how they can now possibly pay him $120 million in severance.

Finally, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, making some news of their own.


WILLIE GEIST, MORNING JOE CO-HOST: Joe and Mika are off today and this week. Why you asked? They had a very busy weekend. Joe and Mika got married.


KURTZ: The MSNBC hosts tied the knot, congratulations at the National Archives presided over by Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings. It was all very quiet and private, except for the exclusive Vanity Fair interviews and photos.

That's it for this edition of Media Buzz. I'm Howard Kurtz. I'm glad we had a chance to pay tribute to George H. W. Bush who was just incredibly gracious in office. To contrast that with history and the media now recognizing what George 41 did.

Hey, check out my new Podcast, Media Buzz Meter. We kick around the day's most important or fascinating stories. And you can subscribe at Apply iTunes or Google Play or Let's continue the dialogue on Twitter @HowardKurtz. And check out our Facebook page. We post a lot of original content there, videos and my daily columns.

We ran out of time here. Folks, we're back here next Sunday morning, 11:00 Eastern. We'll see you all then with the latest buzz.

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